WhatsApp has been quite vocal about its end-to-end encryption for personal accounts for the last few months. However, this feature has never been extended to messages backed up to Google Drive or iCloud. The app gets to protect them through server-side encryption. This is a method that can easily be decrypted by the respective cloud services if necessary. So, it would be reasonable for a privacy-conscious individual to see this as less than ideal.
Luckily, WhatsApp is looking to change that. The app was spotted recently working on a new feature to let users protect their backed conversations with a password.
According to WABetaInfo, the feature had started rolling out to beta users although it was pulled by another update. The feature worked by requiring users to choose a password for encrypting future backups.
The password is guaranteed to be completely confidential and cannot be shared with any of the services it goes through. Users are also able to use a 64-digit encryption key instead of a password. The only downside to this is that you’ll never be able to restore your chats if the key gets lost. Additionally, the key only allows numeric digits and lowercase letters between a and f.
If this is made official, there definitely are cautions that users will have to take in order to avoid losing the encryption key. Despite its security assurances, one can see that there is a lot more to lose in case you lose the key.
As mentioned before, the rollout of end-to-end encryption for cloud chat backups was temporarily paused due to connection issues, Hopefully, it’ll begin to roll out again soon.